Good back-rowers can be hard to find and when they make an impact during the season, a club often reacts quickly to re-sign them and for the Castleford Tigers, they did just that with Frankie Mariano.
Joining the club at the beginning of this season, Mariano has enjoyed a successful campaign so far and has featured in every game for the club so far.
For the man himself, he knows that if he keeps playing well and to his potential, then he will continue to be picked in the side.
“I feel really comfortable,” Mariano explained.
“I’ve never felt as comfortable as I do now in this team which is a big factor and it’s showing in my game.
“I wanted to play in every game, but it’s not something I expected with being in a brand new side and having to work my way in.
“Obviously I’ve done something right for Daryl Powell to keep playing me and this is exactly what I needed and wanted. Hopefully I can carry on, keep progressing and keep getting better.”
Knowing how crucial it is to fit into a side, Mariano believes that he and the others have gelled well at Castleford and that is a big reason behind their solid start.
“I feel that I have improved every week as I get a better understanding of the team and how we’re playing. We’ve had a few lapses, but we know where we have gone wrong which is the main thing,” said Mariano.
“The team has gelled since day one of training and my style of playing fits with everybody else’s and we’re working well as a team. I feel like I’m progressing week in, week out, but I know that I’ve got a lot more to come.”
At 27, Mariano has experience and moving forward this season and in the future, he hopes to impart some wisdom on the younger players coming through the ranks.
“My ultimate target is to be a regular in a great team at a great club with great fans and I think I’ve got that here,” said Mariano.
“We’ve started the season well and we’re hoping to finish it even better. Over the next couple of years I’d like to take more of a leadership role as I’m obviously not one of the younger ones in the squad, so I need to start showing my experience and try and look after some of the younger lads coming through.”
For the club themselves and for head coach Daryl Powell, his versatility is a crucial aspect of his game and he knows that the forward can get even better.
“It is great news for the club that Frankie has signed a new contract for the next two years,” said Powell.
“He has continued to improve throughout the year and has lots of room to develop his game even further.
“He is a big athlete with potential to play in three positions, which makes him a valuable member of our squad.”